Sound For Sound is a recurring column that further explores the relationship of rhythm and boxing by celebrating the music that influences and motivates fighters as they prepare for, and to excel under, the game’s brightest of lights
Saturday, October 26, on separate continents, Shakur Stevenson and Regis Prograis fight in championship bouts hoping to convince the boxing world all the talk should really be about “ME”
Quite a few differences separate Olympic silver medalist and top-ranked Featherweight Shakur Stevenson and undefeated WBA Super Lightweight champion Regis Progais.
In addition to a world title, Prograis has a dozen more professional bouts. He’s also eight years older than Stevenson.
Their similarities. Both fighters are confident, in the process of rapidly establishing themselves as marquee names in boxing, and they’re hungry.
One of hip hop’s highly ranked lyricists, Jadakiss, recently made his return to the recording game with signs of a renewed hunger with the roll-out of a forthcoming project. Similar to classmate Ghostface Killah’s pre-release activity for his latest LP Ghostface Killahs, ‘Kiss’ first single “Me” is accompanied by a gritty short film with the street of NYC serving as the backdrop. The Kid Art-directed clip, entitled ME: Short Film, runs nearly 10 minutes and features career Silver Screen criminals Peter Greene (Training Day, The Usual Suspects) and Hassan Jones (The Wire) doing, uh, exactly what they do best. Check for yourself.
‘Kiss fans know what to expect from the Yonkers native’s booth record, dating back to his days as TMOP (The Most Outstanding Player) of The LOX trio, but the soulful production of the track leads the way for this record. Surprisingly, Grammy-winning producer Bryan-Michael Cox (Mariah Carey, Chris Brown, Beyonce) provides track solely driven by Peabo Bryson’s eloquent self-produced 1982 RnB single “Give Me Your Love“, and ‘Kiss uses his signature raspy voice to brilliantly step on it to make the package street-ready.
Both fighters, Stevenson and Prograis, entered the weekend of October 26 and 27 in positions that basically personify Jadakiss’ sentiments of the chorus.
What they talking ’bout? Me
Who they talking ’bout? Me
All they talk about is (Me), uh
With Stevenson making it out of the streets of Newark, New Jersey to medal at the Rio games in 2016, the 22-year old undoubtedly has several people depending on him – coming from a family with nine siblings. He accomplishes another major goal, and drastically changes his world if he’s able to prevail against undefeated Joet Gonzalez and claim the vacant WBO Featherweight title.
I’m the one they call on, gotta feed the family, if not then it falls on (Me)
This is real talk, funeral arrangements whoever put they paws on (Me)
Who be in the Wrangler off road, n—- with the roof and doors gone (Me)
Hah, and who else be in the field, front line ’til the war’s gone? (Me)
The track’s sample of Bryson singing “Me” running throughout the track hearkens back to the crafty usage of “Oh Boy” on Cam’Ron and Juelz Santana’s single with the same name. And, with his recent run through the World Boxing Super Series – which included him finally ascending to world champion status with his semi-finals sixth-round TKO win over Kiryl Relikh in April – Prograis has increasingly become as brazen as any Dipset member, or Jadakiss, with his trash talk.
Who started off movin’ that work?
Put you in a black hearse, never had a wack verse? (Me)
Think, don’t react first
Ain’t a wild n—- but he still let his Gat burst (Me)
Never got his just due, uh-uh
Does everybody feel like that? Or is it just you? (Me)
Prograis’ recent self-promotion is probably borne out of the fact he’s arguably the best 140-pounder in the world, but prior to the Relikh bout the inability of him to get a fight with current WBC and WBO Super Lightweight champion Jose Ramirez left him to appear below Ramirez, in possession of the WBC Diamond belt. Tonight, across the Atlantic at London’s O2 Arena, Prograis has the opportunity to elevate himself to unified champion with a victory over undefeated IBF champion Josh Taylor.
With ‘Kiss’ aforementioned line “…Think, don’t react first”, Prograis took to social media to clap back at some mentions from former Super Lightweight champion Adrien Broner. The New Orleans’ native responded on a level at which Broner would understand best, and was a welcomed salvo in contrast to Senator Manny Pacquiao’s magnanimous approach to Broner’s disrespectful outbursts during the press run for their Showtime Boxing PPV fight in January.
Jadakiss’ return and forthcoming project being accompanied with the “heist/crew betrayal” themed visual, an outstanding promotional tool for a renowned veteran artist, is an awesome innovation for emcees with a decade-plus of decorated service. These short films signal that the elders are still fighting on – while also appealing to older discerning hip hop listeners in a revolutionized medium – in a highly competitive industry largely driven by the sensibilities and artistry of the genre’s younger acts.
By early Sunday morning, October 27, Stevenson and Prograis will have both fought in the biggest fights of their relatively short careers. Hopefully both fighters will have made their own movies. Hell, maybe the kids don’t even use that phrase anymore.
Photos by Mikey Williams/Top Rank
All lyrics verified at genius.com